‘With No Official Status, The Committee Recommendations Can Only Be Advisory’
Nikhila Henry | TNN
Hyderabad: A government known for the paperwork it indulges in before arriving at any crucial decision, formed the Srikrishna Committee without using a single sheet of paper. Justice B N Srikrishna Committee, in fact, does not exist in central government records since there is no file recording its formation or the appointment of its members.
This revelation came about when a city-based RTI activist filed an RTI query seeking information on the formation of the committee and appointment of its members.
In its reply, the ministry of home affairs stated that it had no records (government file) on the formation of the committee and criteria for the appointment of its members as both were done as per ‘discussions’ between Union home minister P Chidambaram and Justice B N Srikrishna.
Interestingly, this would mean that the much-awaited recommendations of the committee scheduled to be given by the end of December, 2010, would at best be advisory in nature.
“While the RTI was filed to find out the criteria of selection by studying the file noting, the home ministry stated that there is no file. Moreover, it is appalling to know that a committee which is meant to decide the future of the 10 Telangana districts would choose its members without any official discussion and with no filed records,” said Rakesh Kumar Dubbudu, an activist who filed the petition.
Interestingly, the ministry directed the RTI applicant to press releases and official circulars stating the names of the
five members of the committee without explaining why the records were not available. Dubbudu, however, claimed that while the press releases and circulars might help in explaining the working of the committee this does not give it any legal grounding per se.
Legal experts said that without a file on the formation of the committee it would be easy to prove the committee to be bogus or one which is nonreliable. “There is a procedure which the government officials and even ministers should follow while initiating any government action and this procedure was not followed during the formation of the committee. Any government in the future will be able to challenge the premise of the formation of the committee and thereby not take its recommendations,” experts said.
The RTI reply also refutes the claim of Srikrishna committee that its terms of reference were drafted under the directions of the home ministry. But the RTI reply indicates that this was not the case. The terms of reference were formed by the Srikrishna committee itself.
Incidentally, the revelation of the ‘informal’ formation of the committee has come out at a time when several Telangana activists are opposing the terms of reference of the committee and appointment of some of its members. There was widespread opposition to the inclusion of certain members in the committee including Ravinder Kaur from IIT Delhi, in the committee and the terms of reference of the committee were also considered to be insensitive towards Telangana by T supporters.